Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Blogger Candidate Forum: What The Mayors Can Do

http://www.citylab.com; October 3, 2017


Hello Everyone:

#BloggerCandidateForum tried to skip out on the weekly column again this week.  Fortunately,Yours Truly was a little faster and caught the naughty hashtag before it could make its escape.  Thought you could get away that quickly, could you?

Just one programming note: Yours Truly will be back to the regular schedule next week.  The major Jewish holidays will be over until the spring and Blogger can fully focus on bringing you all things architecture, historic preservation, urban planning and design.  Speaking of which, shall we talk about Puerto Rico?

The American territory of Puerto Rico was devastated in the wake of Hurricane Maria. Please note that Yours Truly refers to the island as an American territory because this is a fact.  Puerto Rico is not a foreign country; it has been part of the United States since the turn of the 20th-century.  That said, there was no excuse for Mr. Donald Trump's painfully insufficient efforts and delayed response in providing assistance to the island.  Absolutely none whatsoever.  Carmen Yulin Cruz, the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico's largest and capital city, stood before television cameras and told mainland viewers, and anyone else listening, 

We are dying.  And you're killing us with inefficiency.

Cut to the next scene: the President of the United States versus the Mayor of San Juan.  Martin Echenique reports in his CityLab article "The Power of Puerto Rico's Mayors," what followed was "A waterfall of tweets [twitter.com/@realDonaldTrump; Sept. 30, 2017; date accessed Oct. 10, 2017] unleashed Trump's rhetoric in response to Cruz's allegations."  That early morning rant culminated in The President accusing the mayor of Such poor leadership (Ibid).

Last Tuesday, the mayor and the president finally met face-to-face.  On Tuesday October 3, the president and First Lady attended a briefing on relief and rescue efforts with Mayor Cruz (hill.com; Oct. 2, 2017; date accessed Oct. 10, 2017) when they visited the devastated American territory.  Mr. Echenique writes, "...The meeting may reflect both the political importance of mayors in Puerto Rico, and their challenges in coordinating a recovery with limited help from the mainland."

Puerto Rican civic officials, like Mayor Cruz, who oversee larger, wealthier, or more populated cities like San Juan, wield more political power than their counterparts on the mainland who lead municipal governments similar in size and population to the Puerto Rican capital.

Mr. Echenique observes, "Despite her political and public clout, Cruz represents just one of 78 municipalities in Puerto Rico, each of them led by one mayor and a city council that acts as a legislative body."  This is different from the mainland which is "broken up into states, then counties, and then cities ( with the exception of some independent cities [en.wikipedia.org; date accessed Oct. 10, 2017]), mayors are the first line of leadership after the governor in Puerto Rico, reflecting its Spanish colonial past."

The United States Census Bureau sees it a little differently.  The Census Bureau equates the municipalities with mainland counties. In essence, "Puerto Rico has almost the same number of counties as Oklahoma, a territory that is almost 20 times bigger, and 18 times less populated than Puerto Rico."  Fascinating is it not?  Yours Truly cannot help but think that had Maria hit Oklahoma City (the capital of Oklahoma), relief, rescue, and rebuilding efforts would have gotten there a lot faster.  Just saying.  But we digress.  The territory's municipalities are divided into 902 barrios, which have no political representation or autonomy, "but are the smallest legal territorial division in the island according to the Census."

This division present an extra challenge to Puerto Rico's already bruised and economically troubled central government: it will have to coordinate relief and rebuilding efforts with 78 different municipal go entrants for months to come.  According to El Nuevo Dia, one of the island's largest newspapers, "there are still 12 of the 78 municipalities that were not able to reach distribution centers intended for the delivery of aid" (elnuevodia.com; Oct. 2, 2017; date accessed Oct. 10, 2017).

This was one of the reasons Mayor Cruz explained interviews that weekend why she passed on supplies (abcnews.go.com; Oct. 1, 2017; date accessed Oct. 10, 2017) provided to her city to the smaller surrounding municiopalities.

Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz told ABC's George Stephanopoulous:

On Thursday,..., I got..four pallets of food, and four pallets of baby supplies from FEMA.  All of this I gave to the mayo of Camarillo, a town whose mayor had come to the FEMA distribution center and had been told just wait until next Monday because we have nothing. (Ibid)

As writing his article, Martin Echenique reports that "FEMA has given nearly $20 million in aid (FEMA.gov; Sept. 17, 2017; date accessed Oct. 10, 2017) to municipalities in Puerto Rico...(elvocero.com; Oct 2, 2017; date accessed Oct. 10, 2017).  To put this amount in prespective, Florida received  $545 million following Irma (fema.gov; Sept. 10, 2017; date accessedOct. 10, 2017); and Texax got $323 million in the aftermath of Harvey (Ibid; Aug. 2, 2017)

In the smaller rural areas of Puerto Rico, mayors have taken over real leadership positions.  For example, in the southern part of the island, 80 miles from the capital, six mayors from the government and opposition parties, joined together to coordinate relief and reconstruction efforts following the hurricane.  This joint initiative was led by Maria Melendez, the mayor of Ponce, Puerto Rico second largest city.

Mayor Melendez told Metro,

The most important thing about this meeting was the communication between mayors and the regional directors from different agencies...But, above all, the communication between us mayors, to start supporting each other.   (metro.pr; Sept. 27, 2017; date accessed Oct. 10, 2017)

Dr. Edwin Melendez, the head of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at City University of New York, told Mr. Echenique, "rebuilding efforts will be harder for poorer municipalities, as they will have to rely on the aid provided by the central government rather than their own resources to slowly restore publicservices under their responsibility,..."

Specifically, Dr. Melendez said,

Richer, wealthier municipalities are way more powerful.  San Juan and Guaynabo (part of San Juan's metro area, too), for example, have a lot more political power than other municipalities that are less rich...

Partly motivated by the island's crushing 70 billion dollar government debt, government leaders and lawmakers are considering the practicality of consolidating some of the municipalities.  Mayor Melendez noted "municipalities are-and will be impacted-by the ongoing economic crisis, now worsened after Hurricane Maria."

Supporters of consolidation posit "that it would provide one kind of solution to the island's financial distress: By bringing smaller towns together the do not necessarily need their own full local government apparatus, they might reduce the amount of money given in subsidies and salaries to every municipio."  Specifically, over half of Puerto Rico's municipios are running deficits and are unable to maintain their economic obligations.

Mario Negron-Portillo, a former director of the University of Puerto Rico's School of Public Adminstration, told the New York Times last year,

The majority are bankrupt, and they keep living off the central government that maintains them, and the central government doesn't have money now, either. (nytimes.com; July 26, 2016; date accessed Oct. 10, 2017)

Consolidation does come with a political cost, "as the municipalities in Puerto Rico are tied to an identity as to a sense of belonging, according to Melendez."  Dr Melendez argues "that it will be difficult for a municipality to lose its autonomy by joining a larger group of cities and barrios.  Speaker of Puerto Rico's House of Representatives, Carlos Mendez said,

We all have our own preferences in terms of our own geographical area, of our hometown. (primerahora.com; July 31, 2017; date accessed Oct 10, 2017)

Further, some of the mayor posit that they are the only ones who know best for their unique communities and can effectively advocate on their behalf.

However, Dr. Melendez believes that the island has no other choice.  He told Mr. Echenique,

The merger of some of these municipalities is inevitable because of the economic crisis.

The mayors of these municipalities also have an important function in linking their communities to the central government.  They are the primary bridge between their constituency and the de facto power institutions-ie the executive and legislative branches for the whole territory-a major difference in comparison to mainland American mayors.

As Puerto Rico navigates its way through what looks to be a very long recovery process, Puerto Ricans will most likely rely on mayors like Carmen Yulin Cruz to vociferously advocate for the help they need.


Monday, October 9, 2017

Death By Tourism

http://www.theguardian.com; Aug. 30, 2017


Hello Everyone:

Blogger is back for one more abbreviated week.  Yours Truly is not one to complain (much) but these back-to-back Jewish holidays have really done a number on the schedule.  Nevertheless, she persists.

Today she persists with an interesting question.  The question was posed by the The Guardian's Laignee Barron, "'Unesco-cide' does world heritage status do cities more harm than good?"  Death by the United Nationas Economic, Scientific, and Culture Organization.  Not literally death by UNESCO; more like a world heritage sites overrun by tourists.  Without a doubt, inscription in the World Heritage Organization's registry can be a boon for a city like George Town, Malaysia-a one time "gambling-ridden clan jetties."  The city was saved from deterioration when it was awarded world heritage status. However, that designation came with a heavy price: invasive tourism leaving the inhabitants to wonder if the daily intrusions into their personal spaces and disruption was all worth it.

Chew Jetty is a magnet for boatloads of tourists.  The historic homes have been re-purposes as brightly lit commercial stalls, peddling all the usual tourist tchotkes.  The tour buses regularly drop holiday-goers from the crack of dawn to well past dusk.

Ms. Barron writes, "The daily intrusion has clearly taken a toll: windows are boarded, no photo signs are pervasive, and tenants quickly vanish at the sight of a foreign face."

Lee Kah Lei, the operator of a souvenir stand outside her home, told Ms. Barron,

I would like to remind people that we are not monkeys and this is not a zoo.

Ms. Kah Lei also made this observation,

...the more people who come here, the more the shopkeepers sell.

However she does sorely wish that that the selfie-taking tourists would respect her privacy, particularly not drop into her house uninvited.

Historically, the "clan-jetties" were a thriving seafront on the fringes of George Town on Penang Island.  "A ramshackle collection of stilt houses and sheds, stretching along a line of wooden piers each bearing the surname of its Chinese clan, they are on the last intact bastions of Malaysia's old Chinese settlements."

At onetime, there were numerous clan jetties.  Today, only seven remain, having survived two world wars and the Japanese occupation, but as time wore on the piers fell into a state of neglect.  The threat of encroaching developments caused the jetty owners to turn to one place: "they made an 11th-hour bid to Unesco for protection."


Their efforts were successful.  In 2008 the clan jetties were designated UNESCO world heritage sites but not before two the enclaves were demolished to accommodate a housing complex.

As the saying goes, "Be careful what you wish for because it may come true and might not be what you want."  Laignee Barron reports, "Where fishermen, oyster harvesters and fortune tellers once plied their trade, souvenir vendors and snack bars have taken root."  The locals say they were surprised by the tide of sight-seers flooding their village.  "It's a similar complaint that has resounded across Europe this summer, as cities from Barcelona [theguardian.com; Aug. 1, 2017; date accessed Oct. 9, 2017] to Venice [independent.co.uk; July 27, 2017; date accessed Oct. 9, 2017] try to balance the positive effects of tourism with the inevitable downsides.

Chew Siew Pheng, a resident of Chew Jetty admitted,

We would be gone today if not for the Unesco listing.

Ms. Chew recalled the constant threat of eviction during her childhood, as the jetties continued to deteriorate.

Although UNESCO spared the last seven jetties from a date with the wrecking ball, she added that the WHO status

...affected our privacy.  Our jetty has become commercialised.  People are moving.  During the December holidays like Chinese New Year and Malay Raya, it's not even a place to live.

Indeed.  Currently, there are "1,052 destinations across the world that have been stampe with United Nations world heritage status" struggling to find a balance between the economic benefits of tourism and preserving the culture that brought them recognition.

UNESCO began heritage designation in 1972 to identify and protect place of outstanding universal value.  Nevertheless, by identifying those places, designation fueled the onslaught of visitors, opening the door to the kind of commercialization that can lead to the Disney-facation of a place.

In the 2002 Manuel Managing Tourism at World Heritage Sites, former WHO director Franceso Bandarin wrote,

It is an inevitable destiny: the very reasons why a property is chosen for inscription on the world heritage list are also the reasons why millions of tourists flock to those sites year after year.

Italian writer Marco d'Eramo gave this phenomena a name.  Mr. d'Eramo argued in the New Left Review "that Unesco preserves buildings but allows the communities around them to be destroyed often by tourism."  He coined the term Unesco-cide (newleftreview.org; July-Aug. 2014; date accessed Oct. 9, 2017).

Another example of "UNESCO-cide" is Luang Prabang, Laos.  A world heritage town of about 50,000 residents, it is on track to receive over 70,000 tourists by 2018 (laotiantimes.com; Sept. 27, 2016; date accessed Oct. 9, 2017).  Ms. Barron writes, "Researcher Chloe Maurel has written about the adverse affect of the status [theconversation.com; Jan. 11, 2017; date accessed Oct. 9, 2017] on the historic Casco Viejo neighbourhood in Panama City,which relegated its poorest inhabitants to the city limits following it Unesco validation-while the central district was flooded with tourists."

National Geographic (news.nationalgeographic.com; Feb. 3, 2003  date accessed Oct. 9, 2017) has put together case studies such as Xian, China, the home of the famous terra cotta warriors, where a poorly place museum may have adversely impacted the fragile site.  Lauri Hafvenstein and Brian Handwerk also wrote about "...the controversial activity close to the Belize's Barrier Reef, where developers are closing in and exploiting the region's world heritage status to sell swamp land to customers over the internet."

George Town and the clan jetties, the UNESCO designation provided a much needed second life.  Some history:  George Town was established in 1786, by the British East India Company.  The settlement attracted artisans, sailors, and traders during the 19th and 20th centuries.  Fishermen and porters from the southern Chinese province of Fujian established enclaves above the seafront.  Each extended family (clan) claimed a jetty and makeshift settlements grew as other family members emigrated and built stilt homes interconnected by wooden walkways.

Ms. Barron writes, "When George Town lost its free port state in 1969, the city fell into decline, wracked by high unemployment for nearly 30 years."  UN designation revived George Town as a tourist destination; "between six and seven million people stay in the city's hotels each year.  The clan jetties-long dismissed as a gambling-ridden, squatters' slum-were suddenly a top attraction."

Jo Caust, associate professor at the University of Melbourne, told Ms. Barron that "world heritage status can prove a double edge sword.  Designation is frequently considered a cash cow by governments anxious to "ring dollars out of architectural history," she posited in the Journal of Cultural Heritage earlier this year.  While re-purposing a place as a tourist destination can facilitate community revitalization, without proper management plans those bus loads of tourists can eventually destroy a site.

Prof. Caust told Ms. Barron,

Communities impacted by tourism in Europe are trying now to fight back against the destructive effect of uncontrolled tourism.  The impact in a third world country is likely to be more extreme...What is the motivation behind the development and the achievement of the status?  Making more money or cultural heritage protection?

Clement Liang, a member of the Penang Heritage Trust who help get the clan jetties inscribed as a world heritage site, agreed "that when commercial interests are on the line they, override the idealist notion of preserving the character of a heritage site."

UNESCO has increasingly promoted the concept of "sustainable tourism," making 2017 the "International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development."  However, heritage experts say that this lofty goal is more theoretical than practical.

Mr. Liang said,

Currently Unesco has no clear guidelines or effective methods to control the commercialisation of world heritage sites, and its talk on sustainability is more a verbal exercise than enforceable.

Laignee Barron reports, "The Penang Heritage Trust says the future of the jetties ultimately rests in the hands of the clan leaders."

The jetty residents are not united on the area's future.  Some of have watched the commercialization of Chew Jetty with envy, others with dismay.  Not all the residents, especially the younger generation, appreciate the history of the older, higher maintenance homes that lack the even the most basic modern amenities like a sewage system.

Ang Huah, a tour guide and inhabitant of the Lim Jetty, offers this solution: "...avoid bringing people to his clan's quieter enclave, funnelling visitors to the Chews instead."  He said,

It's not peaceful.  And people don't even really buy stuff.

Chew Siew Pheng, who operates a lodging place out of her house, is concerned that if the clan do not decide on an effective management plan for dealing with the tourists, the identity, the history of the place will be gone.

Ms. Chew said "one proposal would be to introduce an entrance fee to help limit visitors and create a fund to maintain and renovate the jetties, making more appealing to occupy."  She conceded that while the commercialization of her clan's jetty cannot be undone, the residents need to step out and do more to "ensure the jetties are maintained and improved for the sake of residents, not just for tourists."

Chew Siew Pheng concludes, 

Only we can preserve this place.  We have to decide now how to manage it.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Revitalizing Post-Industrial Factory Towns

http://www.citylab.com; August 22, 2017


Hello Everyone:

Welcome to another abbreviated week on the blog.  This week and next, Jewish holidays are once again demanding Blogger's time.  That aside, the horror of another mass shooting has rocked the known Galaxy.  The shooting took place at Mandalay Bay Casino and Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada late yesterday evening, during a country music festival.  Two things struck Blogger: First, casinos, like Mandalay Bay, are heavily surveilled, cameras are everywhere, including places you would not think.  So, it makes Blogger wonder why no one noticed anything odd.  Actually, this is a rhetorical question because, we have been so conditioned to look for someone with brown skin and an Arabic name.  The gunman in Las Vegas was a sixty-four year old white guy with no criminal history.  You draw your own conclusions.

Next, the clock is ticking loudly.  The completed DACA-renewal application, a check, or money order $495 must be postmarked NO LATER THAN MIDNIGHT OCTOBER 5, 2017.  If you are reading this post, stop immediately and fill out the application, then come back to read today's post on "Temporary Urbanism."  Finally, Mr. Trump, Hurricane Maria was not "A real catastrophe?"  Are you serious?  Hurricane Katrina was a genuine tragedy that left over 1,800 dead and an entire parts of New Orleans underwater.  Hurricane Maria was a category 5 hurricane that leveled an entire island, a territory of the United States.  Thankfully only sixteen people were killed but it is no less a catastrophe.  Then you stand there, like some slick game show host, tossing out rolls of toilet and kitchen paper.  What was that about?  Sad.  Your response to the disaster in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Island is deplorable.  Shall we move on?

Here is a question: "What will become of manufacturing town in a post-industrial world?"  This is the question Robin Chang asks in her CityLab article "How 'Temporary Urbanism' Can Transform Struggling Industrial Town,"  "What will become of manufacturing towns in a post-world in a post-industrial world?"  From the Ruhr region in Germany (the-conversation.com; June 23, 2017; date accessed Oct. 2, 2017)  to the Rust Belt, onetime thriving factory towns are dealing with shrinking industry, disappearing populations, and existential questions about their position in the global economy.

One example is the city of Detroit, Michigan.  The population of this once bustling auto-making town has declined from 1.85 million in 1950 to 675,000 in 2017. (http://www.freep.com; May, 25, 2017; date accessed Oct. 2, 2017)

Thus, the task at hand is "Reinvigoratoing these legacy cities (lincolnist.edu; May 2013; date accessed Oct. 2, 2017), as they are sometimes called, is not easy-but it is not impossible."  Ms. Chang has done research in Europe, inspired by the urban planning non-profit Die Urbanstein, located in her home base of Dortmund, Germany.  Ms. Chang has has identified several "innovative redevelopment models" that potentially offer lessons for all post-industrial cities.

Robin Chang reports, "These three movements focus on ephemeral, flexible solutions that are broadly applicable to any city seeking to reinvent faded manufacturing zones: tactical urbanism [http://www.citylab.com Mar. 2, 2012; date accessed Oct. 2, 2017], sustainable landscape [http://www.asla.org; date accessed Oct. 2, 2017], and the tiny homes movement [http://www.businessinsider.com; May 10, 2017; date accessed Oct. 2, 2017]"

"Temporary, tactical urbanism (Plantage 9, Bremen)": the port city of Bremen, in Northern Germany, has struggled to adapt itself to the socioeconomic environment of the 21st century (http://www.planetizen.com; Sept. , 2017; date accessed Oct. 2, 2017).

Today, Bremen is known for its success with tactical urbanism-inspired strategies (link.springer.com; date accessed Oct. 2, 2017).  The strategy, known as Street Plans Collaborative (street-plans.com; date accessed Oct. 2, 2017) encompasses a variety of short term, low cost, scalable measures that facilitate more long term community building change.

In Bremen, the ZwischeZeitZentrale (ZZZ; zzz-bremen.de; date accessed Oct. 2, 2017) is a local organization set up to be the "project middleman, set out to match underutilized urban spaces in Bremen with projects in need of a home."

One of the projects undertaken by ZZZ was Plantage 9 (plantage9.wordpress.com; date accessed Oct. 2, 2017), a former textile factory repurposed as a culture and innovation hub, "with over 30 independent, creative, and entrepreneurial temporary users, a food-truck kitchen, bike repair workshop, and studios and galleries for young artists."

Some of the business stayed for a short time.  Other have remained, and "in 2012 these users negotiated a new lease and management contract between the city and the collective."  Plantage 9 began its life as a pilot project, blossoming. Into a community association that has become a part of the city's cultural life.

Robin Chang writes, "As Plantage 9-style matchmaking revitalized lifeless spaces with exciting projects, Bremen's national reputation has changed, top-from struggling post-industrial city to dynamic urban innovator."

"Sustainable landscapes (Zomerhofwartier; Rotterdam)": the residents of Rotterdam, Netherlands have created comprehensive urban revitalization processes in an neglected neighborhood.  The finished product Zomerhofwartier (ZoHo; zohorotterdam.nl; date accessed Oct. 2, 2017), "the new face of a former industrial area near the city's central train station."

ZoHo was first conceived in 2013 as a temporary intiative by a small group of community organizations, later reconfigured a ZOHOCITIZENS, ZoHo is now composed of a permenant communal workspaces, as well as studios that are host to events, classes, and green spaces.  The process has taken a decade to come to fruition-what developers call slow urbanism (thecityateyelevel.com; date accessed Oct. 2, 2017)-the area has grown into one of Rotterdam's core makers areas.

One of ZoHo's innovations is climate proofing (urbanisten.nl; date accessed Oct. 2, 2017), the site acts as an "urban laboratory for ecological adaptation and transition."  So far, ZoHo has implemented a water collection, storage systems in public spaces, green rooftops, urban gardens, and has reduced hard surfaces.

The final goal is "to increase the whole district's ecological resiliency and the socioeconomic vitality of the district through the micro-greening of the specific locations in the urban concrete fabric."

"Tiny Houses (Berlin)": Tiny houses (thetinylife.com; date accessed Oct. 2, 2017) is something that might work in the Los Angeles as rents continue to be "too damn high."  Robin Chang describes the Tiny House Movement as relying on "small modular units that recall images of cottage..."  The movement has gained traction in the United States in the wake of the housing crisis, as an alternative for affordable housing.  These minuscule residences, sometimes standalone and other times as secondary units, have inspired the reality show Tiny House, Big Living (hgtv.com; date accessed Oct. 2, 2017)

The Tiny House Movement has established a firm foothold in North America, but is still developing in Europe, according to the Tiny Home website (tinyhomebuilders.com; date accessed Oct. 2, 2017).  

Robin Chang writes, "While the typical context for tiny homes is residential, the Bauhaus Campus Berlin [bauhauscampus.org; date accessed Oct. 2, 2017] collaboration between Tinyhouse University and Bauhaus Archieve from the Museum of Design in Berlin is demonstrating how these units can temporarily reconceive unused space for social justice, learning, and research."

Germany has embraced the Tiny Home movement as a way to provide housing for new residents and refugees.  The challenge of creating new housing has inspired an educational forum and workshop earlier this year that teaches people how to build their own tiny home.

The Tiny Movement was featured in the German media (theconversation.com; date accessed Oct. 2, 2017), together with similar projects, the Bauhaus Campus Berlin included "12 tiny homes on the front lawn of the museum and promotes tiny house building through design Creasy courses, panel discussions, and other cultural gatherings."

"Scaling innovation": thus far, the European examples present the resilient direction of temporary urbanism, working with the context the neighborhood scale, using informality to engage the stakeholders, and make sure that local governments respond effectively and inclusively to contemporary urban challenges.

Temporary urbanism, at the street and neighborhood level, can take on many forms and not limited to post-industrial cities and Europe (planetizen.com; Aug. 28, 2017; date accessed Oct. 2, 2017).  For example, the city of Denver , Colorado used a tactical strategy to launch on the the United States' first large-scale bike-share programs (tandfonline.com; April 5, 2017; date accessed Oct. 2, 2017) in an extremely automobile-centric city.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania incorporated pop-up landscapes as part of its revitalization effort of the Delaware River waterfront (Ibid; Jan. 17, 2017; date accessed Oct. 2, 2017), "...engaging entrepreneurial municipal officials, urban planning agencies, and landscape designers to strategically harness and catalyze investment."

Clearly, someone is doing something right.  However, Ms. Chang says, "But for a scholarly perspective, we still know little about the mix of enablers and drivers that inspire such transformative moments."  One of the key questions is "What, exactly are the factors that make one temporary urbanism project succeed where another fails?"

The academic jury seems to be stuck on the question of whether or not these ephemeral interventions have as  just as much affect as intended, and "whether citizens are entitled to create effective urban revitalization as professional planners are?"  As to this last question, Blogger wonders why this is even a question.  If you are professional planner, dealing with communities, Blogger believes that citizens are absolutely entitled to create effective urban revitalization because they are the stakeholders.  Whatever interventions a professional planner can come up with is meaningless without their input.  Ms. Chang continues, "And most current research on temporary use is descriptive or expository-narrating and cataloging the process and types of users, formats and instruments seen in tactical initiatives."  

Constructive criticism is helpful in furthering our understanding of change.  Nevertheless Ms. Chang opines, "But I believe that this adaptive practice is the next frontier in city planning."  Blogger concurs with this thought.  Interventions at neighborhood level creates a more personalized form of urban planning and design.

Ultimately, there has to be more precision in temporary urbanism.  Municipal officials and planners need to refine their broad strokes down to exact doses, numbers of identified stakeholders, processes, and instruments in order develop "recipes" "for more resilient temporary urbanism."

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Blogger Candidate Forum: #Takeaknee




Hello Everyone:

It is time for the weekly edition of Blogger Candidate Forum.  Today, Yours Truly decided to take a step back from the usual architecture, historic preservation, urban planning and design-related topics and take a look at the controversy surrounding #takeaknee.  Before we get going, the usual reminder about hurricane relief and the DACA deadline.  First, Puerto Rico badly needs help.  It seems that Mr. Donald Trump has forgotten that the Caribbeanean Island is part of the United States.  Thank goodness for the National Football League players (more on them shortly) who are organizing a fundraiser this Thursday. Further, what is the problem about sending earthquake relief and rescue workers to Mexico?  Blogger realizes that tweeting about the NFL is a higher priority for POTUS than extending a hand across the border and the Carribeanean Sea.  Deplorable.  Second, today is September 27, 2017 and the October 5th DACA renewal deadline is the less than eight days away.  Immediately go to uscis.gov and fill out the application.  If the five hundred dollar fee is an issue, you can go to unitedwedream.org, a very useful website with information on how to pay for application.  Good luck. Onto today's subject.

It has been the longstanding custom in the United States, prior to the start of an athletic competition, to stand for the National Anthem.  Both spectators and competitors usually stand, gentlemen remove their headgear and place it over their hearts, and sing the Star Spangled Banner.  So ingrained is this custom that to do otherwise is considered sacreligious.  So imagine the outcry when former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and his then-teammate Eric Reid decided first to sit through the National Anthem, then kneel in protest to the police-related killings of young African-Americans.  In a brilliantly written opinion editorial, "Eric Reid: Why Colin Kaepernick and I Decided to Take a Knew," he explained,

In early 2016, I began paying attention to reports about the incredible number of unarmed black people begin killed by the police...the killing of Alton Sterling in my hometown Baton Rouge, La.  This could have happened to any of my family members who still live in the area...I wanted to do something, but idn't know what or how to do it.  All I knew for sure is that I wanted it to be as respectful as possible...(mobile.nytimes.com: Sept. 25, 2017; date accessed Sept. 27, 2017)

The decision by Messrs. Reid and Kaepernick was not a simple one.  They carefully considered how to get involved in a way that would have a positive and meaningful impact on the social justice movement.  After hours of deliberation, they chose to kneel, rather than continue to sit.  Mr. Reid explains, 

We Chloe to kneel because it's a respectful gesture.  I remember thinking our posture was like a fla flown at half-mast to mark a tragedy. (Ibid)

A beautiful metaphor.

For his part, Mr. Kaepernick was punished by the NFL-not resigned to his team and no other team would sign him.  Fortunately Mr. Reid continues to play for the San Francisco 49ers.

However at a rally in Alabama, this past Friday, Mr. Trump put his white hot spotlight on the issue. Speaking at a rally for Republican Senate candidate Luther Strange, Mr. Trump told the boisrous crowd,

...NFL owners should respond to the players by saying "Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, he's fired.  He's fired. (CNN.com; Sept. 23, 2017; date accessed Sept. 27, 2017)

He added,

...If fans would "leave the stadium" when players kneel in protest during the national anthem, "I guarantee things will stop. (Ibid)

Pretty strange remarks, considering he was in Alabama to show his support for Mr. Strange.  These rambling non-sequiturs have become so common for Mr. Trump that there is almost no point in getting outraged.  Yet, Mr. Trump's remarks strike at the very heart of American culture. 

We Americans really love our football.  Nothing says an autumn Sunday like watching a full day of twenty-two (eleven on each team) bash into each other over an egg-shaped ball.  We cheer for our team, get excited over touchdown, get into heated debates over every call. We live vicariously through our home team.

Athletes, like Mr. Reid, and by extension entertainers, are expected to fulfill our fantasies.  We have to remember that celebrities do not live in a bubble, insulated from the realities of today.  Yours Truly was reminded of this yesterday, reading over some comments posted on a band Facebook page.  The band posted a picture of one of the members, posing next to an image of American flag with the caption "It's hard to be a stand up guy in a world full of sit down people."  The hostility came fast and furious.  The essence of them was your only job is to entertain us and provide some escape.  Keep your opinions to yourself.  It is this kind of thinking is what truly baffled Eric Reid.

In his Op-Ed piece, Mr. Reid writes,

It baffles me that our protest is still being misconstrued as disrespectful to the country, flag and military personnel.  We chose it because it's exactly the opposite.  It has always been my understanding that the brave men and women who fought and died for our country did so to ensure that we could live in a fair and free society, which includes the right to speak out in protest. (mobile.nytimes.com: Sept. 25, 2017; date accessed Sept. 27, 2017)

It is also baffling to Blogger why kneeling, instead of standing, during the national anthem is considered disrespectful to the flag, the national anthem, and military personnel as if they are objects worthy of religious veneration.  However, not everyone sees, what has been dismissed as "a piece of cloth" and "a song," as objects of veneration.  That piece of cloth and that song are symbolic of a country that is supposed to ensure Liberty for all.  However, not everyone sees it that way.  In today's Wall Street Journal, Jason Riley writes of being raised as a Jehovah's Witness and being taught that all forms of patriotism was considered idoltrous.

Growing up, I was taught that the flag was an idol and that saluting it was a form of idolatry, which was forbidden.  Indeed, all forms of patriotism were discouraged.  No joining the military.  No running for office.  No voting or taking sides in political debates... (foxnews.com; Sept. 27, 2017)

As a child, Mr. Riley's mother would meet with the principal of his school, on the first day of class, to explain that as Jehovah's Witnesses he would remain silent doing the recitation of the Pledge of Allgiance every morning.  When his father, not a member of the church, took him to sporting events, Mr. Riley's father would stand while Jason Riley would sit.  Mr. Riley Sr. never said a word out of respect to his mother.  Mr. Riley points to a 1943 Supreme Court ruling regarding forcing a child to salute the flag.  He writes,

...the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, in West Virginia State  Board of Education v. Barnette (1943), that forcing children to salute the flag violated the Constitution.  The court held that saluting the flag is form of utterance and that the right not to speak is equally protect under the First Amendment as the right to free speech.  "The case is made difficult not because the principles of its decision are obscure but because the flag involved is our own," wrote Justice Robert Jackson...(Ibid)

Jason Riley concludes with these words from Justice Jackson

...To believe that patriotism will flourish if patriotic ceremonies are voluntary and spontaneous instead of a compulsory routine is to make an unflattering estimate of the appeal of our institution to free minds...(Ibid)



Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Make Social Safety Nets Strong

http://www.citylab.com; August 20, 2017


Hello Everyone:

Yours Truly is back from welcoming the Jewish New Year and ready for a full week on the blog.  Before we get going, a few agenda items.  First and foremost, the October 5, 2017 DACA renewal deadline is less than ten days away.  If you or someone you know has not renewed their application, do it immediately. For more information and to renew, please go to uscis.gov.  Next, the Island of Puerto Rico is beginning the long and slow rebuilding process in the wake of Hurricane Maria.  Florida and Texas are just beginning the process and still need your help.  Please go to the American Red Cross website: http://www.redcross.org for ways to help.  Finally, Blogger would like to know who has not Mr. Donald Trump picked a fight with? At a campaign rally in Alabama this past Friday, the president took aim at football players who take a knee during the National Anthem to protest the continued oppression of communities of color.  He went so far as to implore National Football League owners and general managers to fire or suspend athletes who take a knee (#takeaknee). Picking a fight with football players was not enough, the president disinvited the National Basketball League champion Golden State Warriors after Stephen Curry announced that he was hesitating over going to the White House for the traditional meet-and-greet.  Taking a knee is a peaceful form of protest for positive social change.  It is not disrespectful to the flag, the National Anthem, or military personal.  The flag, the National Anthem all represent the hard fought for rights, including the right to peaceful protest.  The president may love his country and flag but not what the flag stands for.  Alright, now on to rebuilding the social safety net.

One the of the key things to creating a more equitable society is strengthening the social safety nets.  Consider the "good" jobs of days gone by.  Think the work in the coal mines or in factories.  What made those jobs so good?  It was not the repetitive daily tasks, it was the economic security that came with those "good" jobs.  It was not the pay or the benefits, it was the stability that it brought to individual households and communities.  Brooks Rainwater writes in his CityLab article "How Cities Can Rebuild the Social Safety Net," "In short, the good of yesterday strengthened the safety net."

Today, in place of the secure factory jobs, the service sector has taken over the role of economically stable employment.  Restaurant work is not just for struggling actors anymore.  A Bureau of Labor Statistics report, issued this year, reported that "Restaurant jobs are on fire in 2017, growing faster than health care, construction, or manufacturing...the jobs are mostly at sit-down restaurants,which make up 50 percent of the category.  Fast-food joints are the next largest employer in the category, with 37 percent..." (http://www.citylab.com; Aug. 9, 2017; date accessed Sept. 25, 2017). Since January, restaurants added "nearly 200,000 to the economy."  The Atlantic's Derek Thompson recently wrote, "...these positions are responsible for big chunks of urban job growth-more than a third of Cleveland's new hires since 2015 were in restaurants,..."  (Ibid). As optimistic as this may sound, there is a downside about working in a restaurant.  They offer few, if any benefits; a less predictable and burdensome schedule, and a typical hourly pay of $12.50-not exactly enough to support a family in most of the country.

These low-wage "stop-gap" position are tenuous, at best.  Mr. Rainwater reports, "Upwards of 47 percent of U.S. jobs over the next two decades (oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk: date accessed Sept. 25, 2017) due to advances in technology, and workers earring below $20 per hour face a greater than 80 percent  chance of displacement (whitehouse.gov; date Sept. 25, 2017)."

During this age of employment insecurity civic leaders will need to facilitate the construction of a new urban safety net to support their citizens.  This is also a great opportunity right the entrenched inequalities in the system.  Brooks Rainwater offers four ideas on how cities can strengthen the social safety net.

"Make benefits portable:" On-demand and contract employment is increasingly common in the contemporary economy.  Mr. Rainwater reports, "Freelancers now make up 35 percent of the workforce (Forbes.com; Sept. 2016; date accessed Sept. 25, 2017), and since these gig-economy jobs don't have benefits tied to employment, portable benefits are an options whose time has come."  Portability means that benefits such as health, workers's compensation, retirement fund matching, and paid family leave would be tied to the individual, not the employer.  Thoughts on this type of system does vary.  "Some suggest hat benefits should be universal and administered by the government or a public private institution created created for such a purpose."  Others have proffered "...they should be administered by non-governmental community-based groups."  One way or the other, portable benefits hold the possibility of supporting those who work outside the traditional economic structure.  

Brooks Rainwater observes, "Most potential programs involve adding a surcharge to be paid by either the company or customer that would remit to a pool of funds for contract workers within a certain jurisdiction."  One model is the New York Black Car Fund (nybcf.org) where fees collected by the state from on-demand rides helps pay for workers's compensations and other group benefits.  Mr. Rainwater notes, "While it is still early to see a wide swath of initiatives carried out, in late 2016 the New York City Council proposed a law that would provide portable benefits to taxi and ride-hailing drivers." (politico.com; Sept. 6, 2016; date accessed Sept. 25, 2017) Further, there are legislative initiatives in New York and Washington states (pew trusts.org; Feb. 22, 2017; date accessed Sept. 25, 2017). At the federal level, Senator Mark Warner of Virginia is spearheading a portable benefit initiative (techcrunch.com; May 25, 2017; date accessed Sept. 25, 2017).  Mr. Rainwater sounds an optimistic note, "...so expect to see portable benefits explored more all across the country."

"Require employers to provide paid leave:" this is really a no-brainer.  Women make up an ever growing part of the workforce "...approximately 47 percent of the U.S. And the majority (51 percent) of workers in professional and technical occupations."  Studies published the Pew Research Center (pewsocialtreds.org; date accessed Sept. 25, 2017) found that we (as a nation) have made made progress in the distribution of of family and household responsibilities between men and women, however current policies put people with children at a distinct disadvantage.  The United States is the only industrialized nation that offers only unpaid leave through the Family Medical Leave Act (pew research.org; date accessed Sept. 25, 2017)

There is little reason, if any, to expect progress on this issue from the current administration, however, once again the cities are taking the lead. "In San Francisco, the Board of Supervisors mandates six weeks of paid parental leave for workers, and California followed suit with a statewide policy."  Yay.  Mr. Rainwater continues, "This long-overdue policy gives parents the opportunity to maintain their careers while starting a family, help organization retain employees who might otherwise opt out for financial reason, and brings stability to the workforce and economy."


Does Violent Crime Impact Economic Mobility?

http://www.citylab.com; August 22, 2017

Hello Everyone:

Today we are going to take a look at the impact of violent crime on economic mobility.  Once again before we get going, some agenda items.  First, shame on you Mr. Donald Trump for blaming Puerto Rico for the damage wrought by Hurricane Maria.  Never mind that Houston's shoddy urban planning greatly contributed to the massive damage done by Hurricane Irma.  Mr. Trump, instead of tweeting about nonsense like football players #takingaknee during the National Anthem how about focusing your limited attention span on restoring the infrastructure to Puerto Rico.  Puerto Ricans are our fellow citizens.  Second, today is September 26, 2017 and the October 5th DACA renewal deadline is a little over a week away.  You must go to uscis.gov immediately and fill out the application.  Good luck.  Now on to today's subject.

Traditionally American children-by extension children around the world-strive to do better than their parents generation.  However, the sad truth is contemporary young Americans are the first generation not do better than their parents.  Richard Florida points out in his CityLab article "Violent Crime's Toll on Economic Mobility," "In fact, Americans occupy two separate worlds when it comes to moving up the economic ladder.  A small minority of us, anywhere from a fifth to a third who come from advantage backgrounds, can  expect economic mobility on par with any advanced nation."  However, "...tragically, anywhere from two-thirds to 80 percent of Americans who are in less advantaged situations will see their economic prospects be as limited as those in the developing world."  Family income level is one determinant in one's ability to move up the economic ladder; the place where we are raised plays large part in our ability to do better than our parents according to new research by Raj Chetty et al. titled The fading American Dream: Trends in absolute income mobility since 1940. (science.sciencemag.org; April 24, 2017; date accessed Sept. 25, 2017)

A new study published in the Journal of Urban Economics, The effect of violent crime on economic mobility by Patrick Sharkey and Gerard Torrats-Espinosa provides additional determinants that may contribute to the economic mobility gap.  Mr. Sharkey, a New York University sociologist and one of the world's foremost scholars on crime and poverty and his co-author, Mr. Espinosa, an NYU doctoral student, argue "...violent crime has played a significant role in the very different chances at economic mobility facing people from advantaged versus disadvantaged communities."

We all know that exposure to violence is bad for children, the Sharkey-Torrats-Espinosa research is the first one that follows the link between violent crime and children's chances for getting out of poverty.  The study comes at time when urban crime has dramatically declined in many cities across the U.S.  Mr. Florida poses this central question: "Did that crime decline make a difference in the ability of kids from disadvantaged areas to move up the economic ladder?"

The NYU study builds upon the Chetty et al research incorporating mobility data from their oft cited Equality of Opportunity Projects, which followed the economic mobility of about 40 million children born between 1980 and 1986 in 1,335 American counties.  The co-authors compared their information on teenagers's exposure to violent crime from the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Uniform Crime Report and the National Archive.  "It looks specifically at the association between places teenagers 14 to 17 are exposed to violent crime and their subsequent economic position as adults."  Mr. Florida continues, "...it is impossible to completely ferret out the impact of violent crime on economic mobility  from other social forces, but the study controlled for a wide array of factors that are expected to affect economic mobility...race and ethnicity, poverty, education attainment, and unemployment, as well as improvement in policing."

The main conclusion from the study "is that violent crime plays a significant role in Americans' prospects for economic mobility."  The NYU study found that the economic opportunities of low-income children-i.e. those who grow up in the bottom fifth of the economic tier-are the most severely impacted by violent crime.  Ironically, they are the very same children who benefit greatly from the decline of violent crime in their communities.

Patrick Sharkey told Richard Florida via email:

The key point is that when violent crime fall, a kid's chances of moving up out of poverty begin to grow pretty rapidly.

Somehow, this does not surprise Blogger because when violent crime falls, a child has a better chance of attending school and investment in community development increases.  This is just Blogger's own opinion. 

Regardless, Mr. Florida points out, "Statistically speaking, one standard deviation decline in violent crime crime experienced during a child's formative years increased their project adult position on the income distribution by at least two points."  Quoting Mr. Sharkey, Mr. Florida writes, "That's essentially the difference between growing up in Chicago with its high crime rate and Denver where the crime is lower."  Although the NYU study is limited to children born between 1980 and 1986, the impact of a decline in violent crime on their lives was considerable.

Mr. Sharkey continued,

In a place where violent crime was falling, a child born in 1986 had a better chance of moving out of poverty when he or she reached adulthood.

Combine this with the fact that the crime decline in some communities has been dramatic: "The annual homicide total in New York has dropped from a high of roughly 2,100 to around 300."  Mr. Sharkey added, 

In neighborhood where crime has dropped like that, the life chances of kids who start in poverty have also been transformed.

Richard Florida points out, and Blogger concurs, "There are several ways in which violent crime can limit economic mobility."  One determinant of upward mobility is education.  A child threatened at school may decide to drop out.  Mr. Florida makes note of a study that looked at the connection between the rate of violent crime and the high school dropout rate.  He writes, "A 10 percent increase in violent crimes is associate with a 0.5 percent increase in the high school dropout rate, while a 10 percent increase in the murder rate is associated with an even greater 0.9 percent increase in the high school dropout rate."

No shock here that higher levels of violence are motivation for advantaged families to move out of troubled neighborhoods, generating a cycle of more decay and decline, leaving the less advantaged behind.  

Richard Florida concludes with this thought, "Of course this study [Patrick-Torrats-Espinosa] track the period of the 'great crime decline' when violent crime was decreasing across the United States and fewer places had extremely high violent crime rates."  As we all know from following the daily digest of current events, violent crime and murder have been trending upward in several cities.  Consider this, "How much worse might the economic prospects of growing up in the least advantaged places be if crime starts to tick upward.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Blogger Candidate Forum: Protecting DACA-Students

http://www.citylab.com; September 11, 2017


Hello Everyone:

What did you all think about Mr. Donald Trump's maiden speech before the United Nations?  Nothing like threatening to destroy another member nation to give diplomats and the assembled press corps the right impression.  Yours Truly thinks that Sir Elton John may have a copyright infringement case against Mr. Trump for his use of the moniker "Rocket Man."  The speech was so full of vitriol that Blogger half expected Mr. Trump be like late Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev and bang his shoe on the podium.  The threats against North Korea sounds like nothing more than schoolyard taunts.  This is not to say that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is any better.  In fact, Blogger believes that both "men" are behaving more like two little boys.  Alright that aside, let us move on to a couple of more important things

First, Mexico has become Mother Nature's punching bag.  A few weeks ago a massive earthquake rocked the southern coast, then Hurricane Jose swept through the nation, now another massive earthquake shook central Mexico today.  What was that about about climate being a hoax?  Second and related to today's post, Rhode Island announced that it will pay the renewal application fee for DACA-recipients living the state.  Regardless, the October 5, 2017 deadline is looming large.  If you have not submitted your renewal form, DO IT NOW.  For more information please go to http://www.uscis.gov.  

Universities, across the United States, have joined forces to protect their DACA-recipient students from deportation, in the wake of Mr. Trump's cruel decision to end the program.  Blogger is happy to report that her alma mater, the University of Southern California, has promised to protect its DACA-students.  Janet Napolitano, the chancellor of the University of California system, has joined a suit against the administration, to block the administration from implementing this order.  On September 7, 2017, more than 30 people were arrested during a rally in Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  The rally was staged by teachers to protest the adminstration's decision to end DACA (http://www.bostonglobe.com; Sept. 7, 2017; date accessed Sept. 19, 2017).  DACA-Deferred Action for Childhood Arrovals-allows undocumented young people, brought to the U.S. as children to live, work and go to school legally.

Organizer Kirsten Weld, an associate professor of history at Harvard, was among those arrested.  She told CityLab:

We wanted to send a message to our students that we are going to fight for them...We also wanted to show what actions educators can take, because to get this problem solved through signing petitions.

Mimi Kirk writes, with a contribution from Alastair Boone,  in her CityLab article, "How Universities Are Protecting Their DREAMers," "The arrests of Weld and her peers are indicative of the outrage that many colleges and universities are expressing in the wake of the announcement."  USA Today reported:

According to data collected by Educators for Fair Consideration,..., 2.1 million people in the United States might qualify for DACA deferrals.  The nonprofit estimated that about 65,000 undocumented immigrants graduate from high school each year, but only 10,000 graduate from college.  (college.usatoday.com; Feb. 8, 2017; date accessed Sept. 1, 2017)

Teachers and staff also benefit from the program.

The day after the Harvard rally, the UC system, home to 4,000 DACA-students (http://www.latimes.com; Sept. 8, 2017; date accessed Sept. 19, 2017) throughout its ten campuses, announced a lawsuit against the administration (univeristyofcalifornia.edu; Sept. 8, 2017; date accessed Sept. 19, 2017).  The lawsuit states: 

The DREAMers face expulsion from the only country that they call home, based on nothing more than unreasoned executive whim..."

Meng So, the director of UC Berkeley's Undocumented Student Program, called the lawsuit "a gauntlet to fight for justic and human dignity."  Mr. So told CityLab,

It's an invitation to all universities across the nation to join us in winning the battle.

Although it still remains to be seen whether or not other campuses will join the UC in the legal battle, "...the lawsuit take university resistance to deportations of undocumented of students to a new level."

Mimi Kirk reports, "While some institutions, such as Wesleyan University and Reed College, designated themse;ves 'sanctuary campuses,' last year, pledging not to assist federal authorities in the deportation of their students (at least without a warrant), university officials generally recognize that their campuses must ultimately comply with immigration law."  Tim Cresswell, the dean of faculty and Vice President for academic affairs at Trinity College, told The Atlantic  in 2016,

[Being a sanctuary campus] doesn't mean very much.  (http://www.theatlantic.com; Nov. 22, 2016; date accessed Sept. 19, 2017)

Meng So adds,

Community members push for [sanctuary campus status] out of a desire to keep students and staff safe, but we are unsure if it has legal bearing.

Berkeley's Undocumented Student Program, founded in 2012 and a first in the U.S., it has become a model of how universities and colleges can provide services to their DACA-students, "...even if those services fall short of legal protection."

For DACA-student blog readers: pay attention to the next part.  Ms. Kirk reports, "First, So recommends that universities offer free legal support to their undocumented students."  Immediately after that stunning decision, institutions such as Georgetown University (http://www.facebook.com/georgetownuniversity; Sept. 5, 2017; date accessed Sept. 19, 2017), the University of San Diego (http://www.sandiegotribune.com; Sept. 6, 2017; date accessed Sept.19, 2017), and the University of Iowa (http://www.press-citizen.com; Sept. 8, 2017; Sept. 19, 2017) are beginning to provide or augment their legal service.

Next, "Once undocumented students seek legal advice, So says about 30 percent of the time they discover they're eligible for more permenant relief, such as visas granted to victims of crime or human trafficking."  Following that heinous annoucement, unversities are looking to sign up their students in the final two-year DACA period.  This is the important part: "Those whose status expires between now and March 5, 2018, are eligible for enrollment, and the deadline is October 5."  Kirstin Weld said, "...Harvard is looking into helping its students pay the $495 application fee.

Without DACA, students will find more difficult to pay for school.  For example, DACA-students will not be able to secure a work-study job at their school.  Ms. Kirk reports, "With such resources under threat, So say he is looking to shift work study into a public service fellowship or community engagement grant for affected student so they can maintain financial stability."

With increased anxiety over the future, universities have stepped up their mental health services.  Mr. So told CityLab,

Our students should be losing sleep over school, not over whether they will be deported the next day.

In 2015, UC Berkeley hired a counselor to work with DACA-students and other campuses are following  Berkeley's lead.

Mimi Kirk reports, "At the University of New Mexico, for instance, student programs specialists Armando Bustamante is starting group therapy session [http://www.chronicle.com; Sept. 6, 2017; date accessed Sept. 19, 2017] for undocumented students and is working to cover costs for individual sessions.  Harvard President Drew Faust announced [http://www.thecrimson.com; Sept. 6, 2017; date accessed Sept. 19, 2017] a 24-hour hotline for undocumented Harvard affiliates and a weekly support group run by the university's mental health center."

The demand for these services has been extremely high.  "So says that last week his office saw a 350 percent increase in the number of students seeking mental health support, and the website received 108,000 page views in one day..."

Kristin Weld observes "while the Trump decision first and foremost affects DACA recipients, it's harmful to all member of a university community."  She told CityLab:

The federal government us talking about coming into our classrooms and dorms to drag our student and staff awa...This ensures that universities cannot be spaces of safety and sanctuary, and that's unacceptable for everyone.  Educators and institutions must rise to the occasion.

Monday, September 18, 2017

What Does Innovation Have To With Economic Segregation?

http://www.citylab.com; August 18, 2017

Hello Everyone:

Welcome to a new, albeit abbreviated, week on the blog.  The major Jewish holidays are upon us and blogger mama is demanding Blogger's attention.  That aside, a friendly reminder to all DACA-recipients and anyone who knows a DACA-recipient: the October 5th deadline is coming up quickly.  You must renew before this deadline if you want to remain eligible.  The United States Citizenship and Immigration agency is only accepting renewal forms.  For more information please go to http://www.uscis.gov.  Good luck and on to today's subject: innovation and economic segregation.

It seems that not too long ago, cities were doing whatever they could to attract high-tech companies, hoping that the companies would bring with them high paying jobs.  City after city created programs anticipating they would be the "next Silicon Valley." (http://www.citylab.com; June 20, 2017; date accessed Sept. 18, 2017)

However, with the backlash facing Airbnb and Uber and protests over the high tech companies' shuttle busses have combined to make the onetime saviors into villains.  The villains are being balminess for making cities less affordable and the increasing gap between the wealthy and poor.  Richard Florida points out in his CityLab article, "The Complex Relationship Between Innovation and Economic Segregation," "Indeed, America's leading high-tech centers-the Bay Area, Boston, New York, Washington D.C., San Diego, and Raleigh all rank highly on various measures of wage and income inequality."   (http://www.citylab.com; Apr 13, 2017; date accessed Sept. 18, 2017)

Thus, the question for today is "...to what degree do high-tech industry and economic segregation go together?"

A new study, Innovation, Skill, and Economic Segregation, published by Richard Florida and Charlotta Mellander (http://www.martinprosperity.org: July 28, 2017; Sept. 18, 2017), takes an in-depth look into this issue.  Mr. Florida explains their methodology, "Our analysis covers the majority of America's 350-plus metros.  Within them, we measure innovation both in terms of patents (the most commonly used measured of innovation by economists) and the concentration of high-tech industry.  We measure economic segregation through several models based on income, education, and occupation, as well as a combined measure of overall economic segregation based on all three."

Using these models, Mr. Florida and Ms. Mellander first looked at the connection between levels of innovation and economic segregation for the year 2010-the latest years of complete information.  Next, they studied the link between innovation and economic segregation between 2000-2010.  Combining regression analysis and Principal Component Analysis, the researchers examined "...the connections between innovation, high-tech industry and economic segregation.  Mr. Florida adds, "We control for factors like the population size, average income, and education levels of metros as well as levels of income inequality in order to make a distinction between high tech...and some of the factors that it may bring along with it."

Initial read, "innovation, high-tech industry and economic segregation appear to be closely connected."  A correlation analysis demonstrates the "close connection between economic segregation and patented innovations (0.26) and an even closer connection between economic segregation and the concentration of high-tech industry (0.63)."  The first number is about "the same age the correlation between economic segregation and income (0.26), while the latter is similar to the correlation between economic segregation and population (0.64) making it among the very highest in our analysis."

Be that as it may, the link between innovation, high-tech industry, and economic segregation becomes less obvious "...when we control for factors that are present even in low-tech metros-factors like population size and disproportionate levels of the rich and highly educated, which are also likely to bear  on economic segregation."  Richard Florida and Charlotta Mellander found just one example where the high-tech industry was directly connected to economic segregation.  "This is for occupational segregation, which describes the extent to which highly-paid knowledge workers are segregated from lower-wage blue collar and service workers."  However, across the remainder of their models, Mr. Florida and Ms. Mellander found that the high-tech industry was not statistically associated with economic segregation.

Instead, what they discovered was "...economic segregation appears to be more closely associated with three key factors: the population size, average income, and average education levels of a metro."

Mr. Florida reports, "In some cities, these factors may be partially attributable to high-tech industry, which has brought an influx of highly paid and highly educated workers to cities like Boston and San Francisco.  But many highly segregated cities don't have correspondingly high levels innovations."  When Mr. Florida do Ms. Mellander examined the 350-plus American metros, their study found that "innovation itself is not closely correlated with economic segregation as income and education levels are."  No surprise, they concluded that economic segregation closely hewed to income inequality.

In essence, "...economic segregation tends to be a function of the size and education levels of a metro, which are influenced by many industries other than tech n metros around the country."

Their research suggests that innovation alone may not be the cause for economic segregation in American cities.  However Mr. Florida adds this caveat, "...it is nonetheless in the interest of America's leading high-tech companies to stop extracting from the cities where they are located and use their tremendous resources and capabiities [http://www.technologyreview.com; June 20, 2017; date accessed Sept. 18, 2017] to make them less divided and more equitable-for example helping to improve infrastructure, rather than building exclusive transit systems."  It is these exclusive policies by specific companies that may be actually contributing to economic segregation and inequality.

The Trump Administration is threatening to cut off much needed aid to the high-tech companies' host cities.  The wise move would be for the companies to partner with the cities.  Richard Florida writes, "...high tech companies have no choice but to work with cities, neighborhoods, and residents to engender a new age of inclusive prosperity."

He concludes, "Innovation depends upon the clustering, diversity and intermixing of people in places." The level at which cities and metropolitans have become more segregated by income, education, and occupation, their ability to innovate and develop new technology is likely to decrease.  Over time, the increase in economic segregation is likely to deteriorate a metropolitan's innovation capabilities.  In essence, "The more segregated a place becomes, the less innovative it is likely to be."


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Blogger Candidate Forum: "Anti-Sanctuary" Cities

http://www.citylab.com; August 27, 2017

Hello Everyone:

Time for the weekly addition of Blogger Candidate Forum.  Once again, a couple of reminders: First, you can text donations to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma relief at 90999.  Second, today is September 13, 2017, only a few weeks left to renew your DACA application.  In order to protect yourself from possible deportation, you must renew by October 5, 2017.  Please go to uscis.gov for all the latest information.  This reminder is a nice segue way into today's subject: anti-sanctuary cities.

There is no question in Blogger's mind that Mr. Donald Trump's pardoning for former Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio was one of the most egregiously unconscionable acts of his presidency.  In a tweeted (naturally) statement, the president said,

Throughout his time as sheriff, Arpaio continued his life's work of protect the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration... (http://www.twitter.com/chiraagbains; 5:21 pm Aug. 25, 2017; date accessed Sept. 13, 2017)

In a few words, Mr. Trump signaled his approval of the former sheriff's outrageous, abuse-laden crackdown on undocumented immigrants (http://www.twitter.com/phoenixnewtimes; 7:01PM Aug. 25, 2017; date accessed Sept. 13, 2017) and his persistent defiance of a federal court order to stop racial profile (http://www.npr.org; July 31, 2017; date accessed Sept. 13, 2017).  Tanvi Misra writes in her CityLab article, "'Anti-Sanctuary' Cities Continue to Multiply Under Trump," "The presidential pardon is likely to encourage other local governments to abandon any fears of litigation and sign-up to engage in similar behavior."  It could also increase the number of "anti-sanctuary" cities, which have been steadily multiplying since the president took office (http://www.citylab.com; March 1, 2017; date accessed Sept. 13, 2017).

During his tenure as sheriff, Mr. Arpaio participated in the 287(g) program-Delegation of Immigration Authority Section 287(g) Immigration and Nationality Act (http://www.ice.gov; date accessed Sept. 13, 2017).  This act invests local police and sheriff's deputies immigration enforcement powers, either in jails or in the field, or both.  The former sheriff spent who know how much taxpayer money (http://www.eastvalleytribune.com; date accessed Sept. 13, 2017) tracking down undocumented immigrants (and the lawsuits that followed [http://www.azcentral.com; March 28, 2017; date accessed Sept. 13, 2017]).  Mr. Arpaio was also infamous for the in humane and humiliating treatment of his immigrants in his custody (http://www.newyorker.com; July 20, 2009; date accessed Sept.13, 2017) clearly a violation of the Eight Amendment which forbids cruel and unusual punishment.  Ms. Misra cites some of the ways the former sheriff would treat his inmates: "...He'd move hundreds of male detainees to a new jail in nothing but pink underwear.  When the jails became overcrowded, he moved his prisoners to "concentration camps" [http://www.phoenixnewtimes; Aug. 2, 2010; date accessed Sept. 13, 2017]-tent cities with no respite from the temperatures as high as 135 degrees."  Inmates were physically abused (Ibid; July 2, 1997; date accessed Sept. 13, 2017) and deaths occurred at alarming rates (Ibid; Nov. 24, 2015; date accessed Sept. 13, 2017). 

Ms. Misra reports, "In 2011, a Justice Department Investigation [http://www.justic.gov; Dec. 15, 2011; date accessed Sept. 13, 2017] confirmed his civil rights violation and DHS revoked its agreement to let his officers carry out immigration enforcement in the field."  The results of this investigation came a year after two government watchdogs (oig.dhs.gov; March , 2010; date accessed Sept. 3, 2017) concluded that the 287(g) program operated without Immigration and Customs Enforcement oversight.  She continues, "For these reason, the program was scaled back in favor of other forms of cooperation under the Obama administration.  However, President Barack Obama is no longer in office and the current administration has revived and enhanced it (http://www.citylab.com; March 1, 2017), and actively encouraging municipalities to embrace it.  Not in Los Angeles.  Yay Mayor Eric Garcetti

Breaking news: according to the Phoenix New Times Motel 6 in Latino neighborhoods allegedly share their guest lists with ICE.  (twitter.com/phoenixnewtimes; Sept. 13, 2017; 8:00 AM)

In July, ICE announced that it signed new 287(g) agreements with 18 Texas counties (http://www.ice.gov; July 31, 2017; date accessed Sept. 13, 2017). This brings the total to 60 counties (Ibid), double the number from the previous year.  Tanvi Misra writes, "So far, these counties have opted for the 'jail enforcement model,' in which only jailers can carry out ICE's responsibilities."  This is a tamer version of 287(g) than the Arpaio iteration-it equally criticized for being cost ineffective (isa.unc.edu; Feb. 2010; date accessed Sept. 13, 2017) and counter productive (http://www.migrationpolicy.org; Jan. 2011; Sept. 13, 2017).

CityLab has generated an inter-active map of the counties that signed up or renewed a 287(g), which can be viewed at http://www.citylab.com.  Most of the counties that signed up are clustered in the Houston area.  Something to be aware of if you are a DACA-recipient seeking hurricane relief.  The full list is available at the ICE website.  Yours Truly is happy to report that Los Angeles County is not the list but the Orange County, California Sheriff's Office is on the list of places that practice jail enforcement of 287(g).

Tanvi Misra observes, "It seems that what Trump is selling, many sheriffs are willing to buy."  The sheriffs are are still on the fence about it (http://www.thedailybeast.com; Aug. 19, 2017; date accessed Sept. 13, 2017) may be offered a workaround (http://www.nytimes.com; Aug. 21, 2017; Sept. 13, 2017).  According to a New York Times report by Caitlin Dickerson, the workaround agreement,

...intended to circumvent court decisions that have thus far limited the role of local law enforcement in immigration.  It involves a legal move regarding detainers, which are requests by Immigration and Customs Enforcements to local sheriffs or police departments to hold people who are suspected of being in the country illegally, even after they have posted bail, finished their jail sentence or otherwise resolved their criminal cases.

In short, this plan circumvents court decisions that found the detainers  violation of the Fourth Amendment-unreasonable search and seizure.

The plan calls for the federal government to "contract" sheriffs' department to detain people's suspected of being undocumented immigrants.  What is not clear is what form these new agreements will take, but they are in the same vein as the 287(g) agreements (http://www.twitter.com/juliemaoster; 7:04 AM Aug. 21, 2017; date accessed Sept. 13, 2017.  Ms. Misra spoke with Daniel Stageman, director of research at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice at City University of New York, who has been following these agreements.  On November 2, 2016, he post this article on The Crime Report,

...The parameters of such agreements, or the training that local law enforcements officers requires under them, are left ambiguous.  Notwithstanding the established practice of ICE under the Obama administration (the GW Bush administration prior to that), it is certainly conceivable that a Trump administration could severely reduce the rigor of established training requirements, along with the strictures laid out in ICE's current Memorandum of Agreement template [http://www.ice.gov; date accessed Sept. 13, 2017], leaving a loose and undemanding structure to induce local law enforcement agencies to join.  (http://www.thecrimereport.org; Nov. 2, 2016; date accessed Sept. 13, 2017)

Just as Mr. Stageman predicted, smaller Southern counties close to a large undocumented immigrant population are lining up to join, powered by the prospect of political and economic gain.  This makes it even more imperative for current DACA-recipients to renew their applications by October 5, 2017 because this current form of "anti-sanctuary" cities is also growing in number